Monday, August 31, 2009

Fourth Graders in Make-Up?

So, this is the girls' 8th day of school. We've known this new phase of life was coming for a long time and wondered what it would be like for them. Some interesting things we've noted so far. For one, they are both sounding a lot like typical school kids already -- they don't want to go to school. But they didn't ever feel like doing homeschool when 9:00am rolled around either, so this is no surprise.

Both of them have commented that it seems like they do the same things every day. Leslie says it feels like they don't get much of anything done in a class period (of course, their class periods are only 45 minutes long). I remember hearing that comment from other homeschoolers whose kids had gone to school later -- that the kids said they were frustrated at how much time in the school day was wasted with classroom management and review.

Both have expressed concern with whether or not they are catching all the instructions and information they are supposed to be getting from their teachers. That surprised me a little -- it's not like they haven't been in situations where blanket announcements are made to the group that they are expected to listen to and digest. I think maybe they're just expecting it to be harder than it is. Or they're just more nervous about the direct accountability here--as in, I'll miss something important and get a bad grade later. Plus, Eastin in particular is not used to having to maintain this kind of attention for so long. She leaves home a little after 8 and gets off the bus at 4:20pm -- that's a long day. She's wiped out.

They also are both struggling to make real friends. I know -- that just takes time. They know that, too. But it's still hard to be the odd man out at the lunch table or standing around before class. Eastin made an interesting observation: she said everyone in her class seems either so much older than her or so much younger than her. Leslie has made the remark before about public school kids being more mature than homeschooled kids, so I wanted to probe what they mean by that (because that has NOT been my observation).

I asked Eastin, in what way do those kids seem older? Her response? They watch PG-13 movies. They wear make-up (in 4th grade? Really??). They look and talk and act like teenagers. Ah. So they put on the outward trappings of kids older than them.

That's what I thought.

Apparently, the issue is, my girls have spent most of their time with kids who act their age. They haven't yet had enough experiences with 9-year-olds in make-up with teenage attitudes to find out that underneath all that, these kids are still 9-year-olds -- and probably rather immature ones at that.

So, these are those lessons that public schools are supposed to teach better than homeschool. Hmmm.

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